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I doubt there’s an adult among us who lacks a strong and most-often upsetting memory of the events of 9/11 fourteen years ago. I won’t be among those who review the event. It would best be forgotten were it not for the huge added costs of security. You may not see it where you live and work, but here near a Border Crossing the increase in people and resources at the border is nothing short of staggering. Two generations past the crossing nearest me was vacant between the hours of midnight and eight AM. That’s right, no one was on duty. Today’s 2 AM roster might not be as full as the day shift, but you’re surely not going to cross the border without stopping as you drive by darkened windows.
There’s not much we can do to change foreign ideology or theology that is hostile enough to foment subversion or justify violence toward others based on belief. If 9/11 did nothing else for me it has made me very glad to be in a nation that despite its many and sometimes serious flaws did not and does not celebrate violence because others believe differently. We may do much that turns ill, but we rightly honor the gift of freedom.
Another thing we cannot change is consequences of a theological clash not of our making. You and I can look at the world with forgiving and charitable eyes, but many of those who look at us wear a form of visual and mental filter I’m profoundly glad I’m not forced to wear. I say forced because in nations such as Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Turkey there is essentially no choice in belief and therefore essentially no freedom of expression. The Saudis and Iranians are the most blatant in their theological nationalism where the US is the Great Satan and Allah cursed the Jews and expects his followers to carry out their destruction. Turkey and Pakistan are only slightly less blunt about it; it’s the difference between the one pulling the trigger and the one handing them the ammunition. It’s pretty much the same when you’re at the bore end of the weapon.
I know we are supposed to be tolerant. I agree with that but don’t think it means wholesale surrender of reason. I think I should be cautious when tolerating some things, like drinking before taking the wheel or allowing charity to enable freeloading and unproductive laziness to thrive. I had a friend who was prone to heavy use. Due to that they were often broke and in need of money for food. I’d help, but NEVER with money. We’d go to the grocery and leave with food because I knew full well if I handed the friend a twenty it would not end up as bread and meat.
So, I will confess not being tolerant of nations claiming freedom and democracy based on a theology that denies those things to everyone including their must-be-compliant citizens. It is neither free nor lawfully democratic when a theological bent discriminates against and persecutes any but the official religious doctrine. The Saudis and several others are 100% of one sect. Look at statistics and you’ll find quite a few other nations with an obvious religious slant. As example, Morocco in 1948 had over a quarter million Jews. Today there might be a few thousand left. I doubt it is freedom and respect for human rights that drives people out. I doubt it is an example of freedom and human dignity when over four dozen nations make it illegal to have a Bible. I’m not a bible reader, but I can’t think it very good or encouraging for the human future when any sect requires persecution of others as a satisfaction of its role and belief. A person wiser than me said that religion that requires enforcement is tyranny.
There’s another curious aside about 9/11 because it was that date in 1683 that saw the end of the last major military jihad into Europe. The immediate goal; take and plunder Golden Vienna. After that that Caliphate army led by Kara Mustafa was to take Paris where Notre Dame would become a mosque and then on to Rome for the same with the Vatican. It was an ambitious plan to spread the rule of Islam and it was doing quite well. Vienna was besieged. The Austrian Emperor had fled. The city walls were failing. Success for Allah’s army seemed imminent.
Then a funny thing happened. A coalition of Poles and Lithuanians arrived to aid Vienna. Their arrival turned the tide. Between the gallant actions of the Polish Winged Hussars and the good sense of the Lithuanians and Poles to get their cannon on the high ground the Muslim army was so seriously out flanked one of its allies left the field rather than face sure slaughter. Cannon on the Kahlenberg heights and Hussars charging on the field rolled up a much larger but suddenly demoralized army of the Caliph. The loss cost Kara Mustafa his life, strangled in punishment on his return to Istanbul.
The result wasn’t too good for the Polish leader, Jan Sobieski, either. The Austrian Emperor promptly returned to take credit for managing the victory from afar and stoutly refused to have anything to do with Sobieski. This, actually, isn’t too strange because the Polish Kingship was not hereditary or admired anywhere in Europe. When a Polish Kind died the leading nobles found a new one from among impoverished European royalty who would be easily kept in control. The last thing the nobles wanted was a strong king or dynasty that might overshadow them. Even a success like Sobieski was easily belittled. It didn’t help that the Polish king was short, a bit vulgar, and overweight so he looked better suited to passing out dead drunk at a wedding feast than to leading an army. In the Polish way he explained the victory using words of Julius Caesar as his model. Sobieski said “We came. We saw. (Deus Vincit) God conquered.” I think you might want to remember it.